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Canning and Preserving the Harvest

What to do with all those cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes? Here are a few easy ways to store your harvest for the winter.

Canning Tomatoes:

Selecting:

Tomatoes come in a variety of sizes and shapes, but in all cases select ripe, firm tomatoes that are unblemished and well-shaped. Don't use any tomatoes with spots, cracks, or those that are overripe, soft, or decayed.

Preparing:

Allow 2 1/2 to 3 pounds tomatoes for each quart or about 1 pound for each pint. Thoroughly wash and remove stems. Put tomatoes into a wire-mesh basket. Dip into boiling water in a large kettle or Dutch oven for 30 seconds (water must be kept at or near boiling). Remove from boiling water and immediately dip tomatoes into cold ice water. When cool, slip off the skins and remove cores and stem ends. Pack small or medium tomatoes whole, but cut large tomatoes into quarters or eighths. Use a small spoon to scrape out excess seeds, if desired. Pack tomatoes as tightly as possible into clean jars, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace. Use a wooden spoon to press tomatoes gently till the juice runs out and fills the jar with no air pockets. Add 1 teaspoon saltfor quarts or 1/2 teaspoon for pints. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids. Process in boiling water bath for 45 minutes for quarts or 35 minutes for pints (start timing when water boils).

Follow these ten guidelines:

  1. Wash jars and lids in hottest cycle of dishwasher to sterilize. Or wash the jars in hot sudsy water and rinse thoroughly and pour boiling water over jars and let them stand in hot water until ready to fill.
  2. Prepare tomatoes as indicated above.
  3. Pack tomatoes into jars, leaving the head space indicated above and add salt. A cloth placed under the jar prevents it from slipping and catches any spills while filling the jars.
  4. Release any air bubbles in the jar by gently working a wooden spoon, chopstick, or other non-metal utensil down the side of the filled jar.
  5. Wipe off the rim of the jar with a clean, damp cloth or paper toweling. Any bits of food on the rim could prevent a perfect seal.
  6. Add the lids and boil jars covered with water for the specified time.
  7. Remove processed jars to a rack to cool. Allow air to circulate around jars, but keep the area free of drafts.
  8. After jars are completely cooled, check for a seal. To test jars, press the center of the lid on a cooled jar. If the dip in the lid holds, the jar is sealed. If the lid bounces up and down when pressed, the jar isn't sealed.
  9. If a jar isn't sealed, check it for flaws. Repack and reprocess the contents using a clean jar and a new lid for the full length of processing time. Or, refrigerate the food and use it within a day or two.
  10. Label and store the jars in a dry, cool, dark place.

Hot Pepper Jelly

  • 1 Cup finely minced ripened chili peppers such as Anaheim and Habanero, use any mix of hot peppers you like and mix the hottest ones with some sweet. (make sure you remove the seeds and membrane or the jelly will be too hot) Careful!!! Use rubber gloves!
  • 6 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 pouches liquid pectin

Sterilize jars and lids and keep hot until needed. In a large kettle, combine minced peppers, sugar, butter and vinegar. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Using a metal spoon, skim off any foam being careful not to remove the minced peppers. Increase the heat to high and bring jelly mixture back to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Again, be careful of the fumes! Stir in Pectin and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and ladle into hot jars, leaving a 1/8" head space. Wipe jar rims with a clean cloth and add lids as you go, screwing tightly and turning upside down for about a minute and then stand them back upright to seal. (Do not wait till the end to seal all jars together) Makes about 8 half pint jars.

Quick Pickled Peppers

  • 2 cup Water
  • 1 cup White wine vinegar
  • 2 tb Kosher salt
  • 1 lg Red pepper
  • 1 lg Yellow pepper
  • 1 lg Green bell pepper
  • 1 Clove garlic
  • 1 Leafy inner rib of celery
  • 1 Sprig fresh basil or oregano

Heat the water, vinegar, and salt to boiling in medium saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer covered until salt is completely dissolved, about 3 minutes.

Rinse peppers well. Cut in half through stems; remove stems, seeds, and white pith. Cut each half lengthwise into thirds. Lightly press garlic with flat of knife and peel. Pack peppers, garlic, celery, and herb sprig into hot clean 1 quart canning jar.

Fill jar with hot vinegar mixture. Slip thin rubber spatula down sides of jar to release air bubbles. Add more vinegar mixture if needed. Seal jar with new canning lid. Store in cool dark place or in refrigerator at least 1 week before serving. Flavor improves with longer storage.

Pickles

Cucumbers Fresh dill Salt Red peppers Garlic Vinegar Put a sprig of dill in the bottom of quart jar. Pack cucumbers in jar. Place 1 clove garlic and 1 small red pepper in jar. (optional) Put 2 tablespoons of salt in jar. Make a brine: add one cup vinegar to three cups of water and bring to a boil. Pour hot solution over pickles. Screw tops on jars and let cool 1 hour then inspect the jars to make sure they are sealed. Let pickles sit for a minimum of two weeks before using.